TL-191: Filling the Gaps

Discussion in 'Alternate History Books and Media' started by Craigo, Feb 12, 2010.

  1. President Mahan Well-Known Member

    Jun 7, 2011
    New York, New York
    This is great! Really helpful research. This clears up a lot of stuff for future articles I am working on. Consider it canon. Personally I would love if you went into more depth on it. If not I will add Everything you added into my GW Naval article.

    -does Beatty die or is he taken prisoner? I had imagined him being the officer that hunts down all of the US commerce raiders in the Atlantic and then is a part of Churchills attempt to change Royal Navy culture to be less risk adverse in the inter-war period. I would like to know what are your plans for him after the Battle. I am fine with any of your three choices for the British commander.

    -I am to take it the Hood that was never completed was the OTL HMS Hood.

    Other than that I agree on the British battlecruisers you have selected, their classes and names.

    -I agree the battlecruisers shouldn't be states. However I think the pre-Dreadnoughts should be named after states.

    -Also bguy and I have the CS having 4 BC's at the start of the war. I haven't decided yet if they were built in the CSA or Britain. I assume CSA politics would tend to have them built domestically. Thoughts? 2 destroyed, 1 damage and one getting away un-harmed. I was thinking CSS Louisville for the fourth.

    I just had a little free time so I am finishing two Navy articles. I will definitely have an article of the Great War naval war from the arms race until the end of 1914 within a week.
    TITUP likes this.
  2. TITUP Member

    Jun 1, 2017
    St. Louis, Missouri

    President Mahan,

    Thank you for the timely and excellent feedback!

    Yes, I was referencing HMS Hood, pennant number 51 in my post. From what I researched the OTL HMS Hood was laid down in Sept 1916, launched in August 1918, and commissioned in May of 1920. In this ATL the Great War ended in the fall of 1917 and while the United Kingdom escaped the arms restrictions imposed upon France and the CSA I can’t see a nearly bankrupt London government pushing ahead with prohibitively expensive warship construction in the immediate aftermath of the Armistice. Plus this gives us the opportunity for a new and improved HMS Hood (King Edward VIII Class Battleships being an ALT equivalent of the King George V Class ships of OTL).

    My mistake on the number of CSA Battlecrusiers! I corrected my original post and added the CSS Louisville.

    On the topic of CSA Battlecruisers, no American politician worth his salt (from North or South) would pass up an jobs creation opportunity for his constitutes. Accordingly, I expect the Whig government of the CSA paid the UK for the design plans / building rights to four Indefatigable Class Battlecruisers, these CSA ships then being built stateside between 1910 and 1914. Aesthetically these ships would be very similar to their cousins across the pond, with minor differences being due to the proclivities of the Confederate Navy (location of officer’s quarters, added torpedo belt protection, etc.) I’ll leave these details to you, Sir.

    As for Admiral Beatty…. If you see a role for him in the interwar period then he needs to most definitely NOT be at Pearl Harbor. When I was writing my post I could not help but be attracted to his larger than life persona. I do agree he is the type of aggressive commander that would be ideal reinvigorating the new and improved Royal Navy under Churchill. Having said that, if he were to somehow survive the sinking of the Princess Royal in 1914 I can’t imagine that he would ever be able to resurrect his career, given the shame of being the commander that presided over what would go down as the greatest defeat for the Royal Navy in its history. With this in mind I will go with VADM Sturdee for overall command in the Sandwich Islands. Not as sexy as Beatty but certainly worthy of such a posting given his sterling career prior to 1914. I would respectfully ask that you take Beatty and make good use of him given this new lease on life—In my opinion David Beatty represents the very best (and very worst) caricature of a British Naval Officer.

    Please take what I laid out and run with it. I’m not a navy man (go Air Force) and accordingly my understanding of tactics and plausible scenarios is somewhat limited in the aquatic realm. If you have the stamina I would love to see this incorporated into your narrative given your track record of sustained superior performance in this timeline.
    President Mahan likes this.
  3. Tiro Well-Known Member

    Jul 15, 2015
    TITUP, please allow me to welcome you to our Southern Victory Cabinet* and please do allow me to compliment you on a very fine first post; for an Airman you run out a fine line in Nautical speculation and I do hope that you will feel free to contribute other Articles or general speculation to this thread in future (in fact I have been contemplating articles focussing on the Air War over North America for some time now, but found myself somewhat handicapped by my lack of knowledge where the Air Arm is concerned and perpetually prone to distraction to boot - may I ask if you would be at all interested in seeing my thoughts on the subject as a PM?).:)

    *I hope that at some point Mr President Mahan will forgive me for trying to make his exalted rank a running in-joke but one doesn't like to presume that he actually will!;)
  4. TITUP Member

    Jun 1, 2017
    St. Louis, Missouri


    Thank you for the kind words. Coming from you they mean a lot as I've enjoyed your work since this thread first came across my computer screen over a year ago. I found your essay on the Isthmian Crisis particularly inspired, and for someone who claims to have a 'lack of knowledge concerning the Air Arm', you did a spectacular job on Claire Lee Chennault! I had to do a lot of reading on Chennault/ Arnold/ Spaatz and others at The Academy (looong time ago), and I can testify that you really did your homework. Impressive stuff.

    Having said all that I'm not sure how much help I might be, but i'd love to have a sneak peak of anything you're working on. PM away.
  5. Tiro Well-Known Member

    Jul 15, 2015
    TITUP, thank you most kindly for your compliments! (please be assured that there's plenty of room for improvement in my photo-Articles on Air Power over North America during the Great Wars, if only because my understanding of the hard realities of Air Warfare is strictly amateur - so I have some idea of what might be tried but only a fairly fuzzy conception of what can be done).

    I'm also of the opinion that when offered a chance to have an Airman look over your ideas for articles on the CS/US Air War and the warriors who fought it one would have to be very foolish to not even ASK!;)

    I have taken steps to clue you in on my basic thoughts concerning Air Power over North America (an older conversation which I hope you will now be able to see the full extent of): if you have any suggestions or other thoughts on the subject then please feel free to send me them and I'll be delighted to consider them.:)
    TITUP likes this.
  6. President Mahan Well-Known Member

    Jun 7, 2011
    New York, New York
    Bombardment of New York 1881

    The Royal Navy attacks on U.S. coastal cities began as a response to the U.S. Navy’s attempt to intercept troop transports heading to Halifax Nova Scotia. Despite being routed, Admiral Beaucahmp Seymour the overall British Naval Commander in the War, sent a squadron of Royal Navy Center-battery Ironclads to pursue the attacking U.S. warships to their homeport of Portland Maine. On paper the U.S. Navy was no match for the Royal Navy with its antiquated collection of Ironclads. However the U.S. retained a large number of steamers that could be used to attack Royal Navy transports and merchantmen.

    After Portland and new intelligence of attacks on merchantmen in the south Atlantic, Admiral Seymour convinced the Admiralty Board that it was necessary to systematically destroy the United States Coastal fortifications and shipyards along both the Atlantic and the Pacific Coasts For his campaign Admiral Seymour collected an eclectic collection of warships, including ironclad battleships, gunboats, torpedo boats, relay ships and wooden steamships. The Battleships were mostly center battery ironclads of the War of Secession era, but also included four of the world’s most advanced turreted ironclads: Dreadnought, Neptune, Inflexible and Devastation.

    Royal Navy North American Fleet

    • HMS Hercules (1868)
    • HMS Temeraire (1875)
    • HMS Dreadnought (1875)
    • HMS Neptune (1874)
    • HMS Inflexible (1876)
    • HMS Devastation (1871)
    • HMS Monarch (1868)
    • HMS Invincible (1869)
    • HMS Audacious (1869)
    • HMS Bellerophon (1865) Flagship

    Torpedo boat
    • HMS Hecla

    Despatch boat
    • HMS Helicon

    Gun vessels
    • HMS Condor
    • HMS Bittern
    • HMS Beacon
    • HMS Cygnet

    Throughout late September the Royal Navy carried out attacks on the New England cities of Boston, Providence and Mystic. Neutralizing one city before heading further down the coast to the next major port or naval base. To confuse the U.S. Navy and divide its resources, Admiral Seymour bypassed New Haven, Connecticut. Targeting instead the United State's largest financial, industrial and population center, New York Harbor.

    In 1880 New York City comprised Manhattan Island and Bronx county, but the greater new york bay area included Brooklyn the country's second largest port and its navy yard. The greater New York Bay Area was defended by six major Forts: Fort Hamilton (Brooklyn Narrows), Fort Wadsworth (Staten Island Narrows), Fort Jay (Governors Island), Castle Clinton (Lower Manhattan), Hellgate (Blackwell’s Island), Fort Wood (Bedloe's Island) and Fort Schuyler (Bronx).

    The Army’s coastal defense artillery operated the Harbor defenses, but with the war approaching all forts were placed under the command of the commandant of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Commodore George Cooper. Cooper who had entered the Navy in 1836 was a veteran of countless naval campaigns including the African Slave Trade Patrol, Mexican War, the Union blockade during the War of Secession and the often contentious Union patrols in the Caribbean. The U.S. Navy also had five refurbished ironclad war ships for harbor defense. Two Kalamazoo class double turreted Ironclads the Colossus, Housatonic, and three older single turret Passaic class Ironclads the Nahant, Nantucket, and Sangamon. Cooper had also worked with the newly created New York and New Jersey state naval militias to convert civilian ships into transports, picket ships and ironclad rams.
    U.S. Navy New York Squadron

    Sea going Ironclad Kalamazoo Class Ironclad (operational at the time of the conflict)
    • USS Colossus (1865) (NY)
    • USS Housatonic (1865) (NY)
    Coastal Ironclad- Passaic Class Ironclads (in reserve at the time of the conflict)
    • Nahant (1863)
    • Nantucket (1864)
    • Sagamon (1863)
    To counter these threats Admiral Seymour committed his entire Fleet of Battleships and support craft to the attack on New York Harbor. On October 23rd At 0430 October 6th, a Royal Navy Squadron was spotted off the Long Island coast steaming south towards Brooklyn and the entrance towards New York Harbor. Thanks to the newly invented telephone the squadron defending New York was alerted and prepared. By 0615 a fleet of fifteen vessels were sighted off the coast of Coney island. The battle began when a New York State militia shore battery began firing on passing Royal Navy vessels. These were quickly silenced by some of the most advanced warships in the world.

    Attack on the Narrows

    By 0700 the Royal Navy Fleet approached the entrance to New York Harbor at the Verrazano Narrows, between Brooklyn and Staten Island. The Narrows was guarded by Fort Hamilton (Brooklyn) and Fort Tompkins (Staten Island). The Hendricks administration had modernized Fort Hamilton with an 8-gun water battery and a 15-gun mortar battery. Fort Tompkins which was now seriously obsolete, had been updated during the Lincoln administration and was equipped with 116 guns to seaward, plus 24 flank howitzers. Ironically both fort had been had been initially been redesigned in the 1850s by Robert E. Lee while serving as the bases head engineer.

    As the Royal Navy Fleet moved towards the narrows the majority of the fleet held off in the Lower Bay. The centerline battery battleships engaged the forts with their long range rifled 11 inch guns at 1,000 and 4,000 yards. By 0800 AM New York’s defensive fleet the Colossus, Housatonic and Nahant arrived and stationed themselves in the narrows. The Nantucket and Sangamon were held in the east river had any Royal Navy ships attempt to enter the harbor via the Long Island Sound and east river. Two Passaic class Ironclads the Nantucket and Sangamon were held in reserve to defend the East River entrance into New York Harbor. The Royal Navy’s remaining Battleships Dreadnought, Neptune, Inflexible and Devastation moved towards the narrows to engage the U.S. ironclads.

    At 0800 Admiral Seymour ordered Royal Marines to land on Brooklyn and Staten Island to attack the Forts from the rear. Meanwhile the remaining battleships had closed in and caused heavy damage to the US ironclads. By 0940 the Housatonic and Nahant were sinking and the Colossus was retreating further into the harbor. With the U.S. ironclads neutralized the smaller Royal Navy gunboats closed in on the forts. The Royal Marines who had landed in Gravesend Brooklyn and Midland Beach Staten Island respectively, were encountering fierce fighting. The overland attack which should have been an hour’s march, quickly bogged down as local militias harried it. On Staten Island the marshy terrain, beach trenches and high ground of U.S. base defense made what should have been a one hour march into a four hour pitched battle. Similarly in Brooklyn the local militias reinforced by U.S. marines turned each of the small southern Brooklyn beach towns into fortresses. The Leif Ericson and Garibaldi battalions, would be remembered in history for their stout defense of these fortresses. After the war eight Congressional Medal of Honors and twenty bronze stars would be showered on these battalions.

    By 1030 the outdated ironclads were defeated with the Nahant and Colossus sinking. The Housatonic, which had one of its turrets rendered completely inoperable,was retreating back towards the harbor’s inner forts. At this point the fleets gunboats moved in to provide even more firepower. The sloop HMS Condor under the command of Rear Admiral Beresford judged rightly that Fort Tompkins could not fire below a certain depression sailed in close and poured in fire with everything he had including machine gun fire. By 1130 Forts Hamilton and Tompkins seaside defenses were silenced. The Royal Marines however were fighting withdrawals on both islands and provided no help to the bombardment.

    Attack on the Inner Harbor

    With the both forts silenced the Royal Navy entered New York harbor. The Royal Navy warships moved through the narrows and began closing in on the harbors older forts at Fort Jay (Governors Island), Castle Clinton (Lower Manhattan island), Fort Liberty (Bedloe’s Island) along with state militia artillery batteries on Manhattan’s southern tip, Brooklyn’s Red hook Port and Governors island.

    By noon the fleet had arrived in the upper Bay where the Royal Navy Fleet divided into two squadrons each with five battleships. One squadron attacking the Governors Island and Brooklyn Forts, the other attacking Bedloe’s Island and Manhattan. At this point the Royal Navy moved to engage its primary targets. When, through the heavy gunpowder smoke the remaining two ironclads Nantucket and Sangamon steamed down the lower bay. As the Brooklyn Squadron turned to engage the new threat, three steam ironclad rams emerged from the Kill Van Kull River separating Staten Island and New Jersey. Two of these rams the Linden and Elizabeth which were hastily built by shipyards in New Jersey. The Intrepid had been built by the Navy and was undergoing refitting in the Brooklyn Navy Yard at the outbreak of the war. The entrance of the new steamers caught the fleet off guard and the Elizabeth and Intrepid were able to strike their targets. The Linden having missed was destroyed by heavy crossfire. Of all three only the Intrepid was able to cause any damage when it struck Admiral Seymour’s flagship the Bellerophron, which began to list and was placed out of action. The admiral responded by sending his gunboats to bombard the Staten Island port facilities and block the entrance to the Kill Van Kull. In revenge for the attack the Condor and Beacon attacked port facilities and shipyards up and down the Staten Island Coast, sailing down the Kill van Kull and targeting two further rams under construction.

    By 1500 all of the upper bay forts had been silenced, with heavy damage to the surrounding neighborhoods of lower Manhattan, Red Hook Brooklyn and Governors Island. The Bedloe’s Island defenders suffered more than 300 casualties after an ammunition dump exploded, the Statue of Remembrance would forever memorialize their deaths and the U.S. defeat in the Second Mexican War.

    The Brooklyn Squadron then headed ups the east river to target the Brooklyn Navy yard. The Nantucket and Sangamon, which had retreated up the east river after the ram attack, then attempted incoordination with Fort Hellgate, to defend the Navy Yard. However Hellgate was by far the smallest fort in the harbor and provided little to no value. By 1700 hours the Navy Yard had suffered serious damage and two modern ironclads under construction were destroyed.

    At the same time the Manhattan Squadron was destroying lower Manhattan port facilities. Plans had been drawn up to conduct a raid similar to the one conducted by the Royal Marines in San Francisco. Targeting the United State’s largest banks located in lower Manhattan. However the event of the Royal Marine landings in Brooklyn and Staten Island, the increasing numbers of fires and heavy presence of New York State Militiamen. Admiral Seymour canceled the operation. With Sunset beginning at 1805, the Royal Navy left the Bay. Heading back to it base of operations in Halifax Nova Scotia.

    Bomb NY.jpg

    Phases of the Battle: A. Attack on the Narrows B. Movement into the inner harbor C. Ram Attack out of the Kill van Kull D. Bombardment of the Inner Forts and Navy Yard

    : 1. Fort Hamilton 2. Fort Tompkins 3.Fort Jay 4.Fort Wood 5. Castle Clinton 6. Fort Hellgate 7. Fort Schuyler


    The Royal Navy attack on New York was its largest operation of the war, including all of its Battleships and nearly all of its gunboats and torpedo boats. A much smaller operation would take place against New Haven early November, but that would be final city targeted in the attack. At the end of the Bombardment of New York, Admiral Seymour’s North American Fleet had effectively destroyed the two biggest ports in the United States, Brooklyn and New York. It had destroyed five ironclads, two modern ironclads under construction, three rams. The cost to the city’s industrial infrastructure was substantial over fifty piers, miles of warehouse space and heavy damage to the Brooklyn Bridge then under construction. At the cost of only one battleship, the Bellerophon.

    However the long-term effects of this destruction were negligible and were even to Great Britain disadvantage. The international press’s response was resoundingly negative. Many nations who already resented the Royal Navy’s influence looked more favorably on the U.S., especially the emerging power Germany. Over the 1890s the U.S. would pour millions of dollars into harbor defenses and make New York the homeport of its Atlantic Fleet. Within five years of the attack, all of the warehouse and piers were rebuilt. The Brooklyn Bridge was finished in 1884, a year later than scheduled. With many of the older building destroyed lower Manhattan would see a construction boom in the early half of the 1880’s. As a result it would become the birthplace of the skyscraper, with the Knickerbocker bank completing the first ten story office building in 1884. The battle also kick started a movement to integrate New York City and its surrounding counties. This bore fruition in 1898 with the creation of the Greater City of New York, which now included New York, Kings, Queens, Bronx and Richmond County.

    Politically the battle turned one of the most doughface regions in the country into a center of Remembrance ideology.The culmination of this would be the completion of the Statue of Remembrance in 1890, built with donations from veterans groups and German Empire. Prior to this Heavy financial relations with the south had always kept the New York City region more amenable to peace with the Confederacy. However after the battle, New York became a center for Remembrance ideology and especially anti-British sentiment. This sentiment was so great that the Counties of Kings and Queens changed their name to Brooklyn and Astoria. After each of the county’s two largest cities.
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2017
    Zoidberg12, TITUP, Tiro and 4 others like this.
  7. Mac Gregor Well-Known Member

    Nov 15, 2009
    Great article! Makes sense that the Royal Navy would have a go at New York. I might have missed it but is there anything on the Ontario front during the Second Mexican War?
  8. Tiro Well-Known Member

    Jul 15, 2015
    As I understand it there was no Ontario Front during the Second Mexican War by virtue of the fact that the United States wasn't really given time to set one up; they appear to have focussed on the Confederate States to such a degree in general and concentrated so much of their available forces on Louisville in particular that British forces in Canada were able to launch a pre-emptive strike that kept the US reeling backwards until the end of the War (at least in the East).

    Had the conflict lasted longer than it did (about eleven months or so, if I remember correctly) one doubts that this would have remained the case for long.
  9. Tiro Well-Known Member

    Jul 15, 2015
    Please accept my compliments upon a most excellent article President Mahan!:)
  10. President Mahan Well-Known Member

    Jun 7, 2011
    New York, New York
    Second Mexican War Naval Campaign Part I

    Union Navy
    Despite the success of the US Navy in blockading the Confederate coast, events on land conspired to rob the service of it’s glory. Following the armistice of November 1862, Royal Navy warships (with a token French presence, that country being preoccupied with its Mexican designs) arrived to ensure that the blockade was lifted, and the small Union fleet grudgingly returned to port.

    Under the Lincoln administration the US continued to maintain a modestly strong navy by European standards. Naval production shut down drastically with the Democratic congress sat in December of 1863. However fear of the British and French fleets now operating in Southern waters kept a moderate naval production. The US developed several new double turreted ironclad designs and even found funds to convert existing ships to iron. By the end of the Lincoln administration the Union Navy stood at twenty five monitor type coastal Ironclads and forty eight active men of war or frigates and forty in reserve.

    Despite the Republican’s best efforts, successive doughface Democrat Administrations gutted the navy. Throughout the 1870s dozens of warships were sold off to balance the budget and relieve War of Secession debts. By the 1870s the Union Navy had slipped from being on par with great naval powers like France and Russia, to being a twelfth rate power behind Chile, Brazil or even China. By 1872 nearly all ironclads had been placed in drydock.

    The one ray of hope for the Navy was the nomination of Joel Parker who served as Secretary of the Navy in 1873 to 1877. Parker had been a war democrat and governor of New Jersey. Despite no naval background, Parker was shocked by the decrepit state of the navy. He pushed the Woodward administration and Congress to allocate funds for more warships, but was denied. Parker responded by scrapping older warships to modernize the best man of war. Including four iron plated Alert Class Gunboats. Parker’s greatest achievement was the securing funds for the renovation of five new ironclads. Parker scrapped five older ironclads and ordered four new ones with exact same names. Construction was slowed down significantly after the financial panic of 1875. Parker tried his best, unfortunately President Cox who replaced the deceased President Woodward, took an even softer line than his predecessors.

    The election of President Tilden in 1876 did not improve the Navy’s prospects. Tilden initially took as little interest in foreign affairs as his predecessors. However when he was heavily criticized for the presiding over the sale of Cuba and then removing the Confederate stars from the flags, he began to take interest. When the Tilden administration wanted to intervene in the Chile-Peru-Bolivian war to safeguard US citizens. He was informed by Secretary of the Navy James A. Weston and Chief of the Navigation Bureau (equivalent to the later Chief of operations ) Rear Admiral Rodgers that the Chilean Navy outgunned the US Navy’s Pacific Fleet. With this Tilden began a belated naval building program, restarting production of four modern ironclad warships. Only one ironclad the USS Puritan would be ready for service at the outbreak of the war.

    All of this changed with the election of James G. Blaine. Blaine as the Congressman representing the Kittery Naval yards had been a forceful advocate of a strong Navy. Blaine campaigned on the US maintaining a fleet on par with the European Powers and capable of protecting the U.S. coasts and projecting power across the seas. On assuming office, one of President Blaine’s first official acts was to order Secretary of the Navy William H. Hunt to commission a panel of Naval Officers to address the U.S.’s lack of Naval preparedness. The panel recommended 21 armored vessels, 70 unarmored, together with rams, and most significant of all it declared that the material of construction should be steel.

    Unfortunately this could not be accomplished anytime soon. In 1881 there was only one plant in the United States capable of making forgings for guns of more than six-inch calibre and one able to make armor plate or torpedoes. This was the Roach & Sons Shipyard in Chester, PA. If the US was to rebuild its Naval pre-eminence, it would have to drastically increase its arms industry. Furthermore any increase in Naval spending would only occur when the 47th Congress actually sat in December of 1881.

    U.S. Navy Ironclad Naval vessels
    Passaic Class Coastal Ironclad (in reserve at the time of the conflict)

    USS Camanche (CA)
    USS Catskill (CT)
    USS Lehigh (RI)
    USS Montauk (ME)
    USS Nahant (NY)
    USS Nantucket (NY)
    USS Passaic (MA)
    USS Patapsco (MA)
    USS Sangamon (NY)
    USS Weehawken (CT)

    Kalamazoo Class Ocean Going Ironclad (operational at the time of the conflict)
    USS Dictator (1865) (PA)
    USS Onondaga (1864) (DE)
    USS Kalamazoo (1864) (CA)
    USS Colossus (1865) (NY)
    USS Housatonic (1865) (NY)
    USS Passaconaway (1866) (ME)
    USS Mystic (1866) (DE)

    Amphrite Class Ocean Going Ironclad (1 operational four under construction).
    USS Puritan (1880) (Pa)
    U.S.S. Amphitrite (1881)
    U.S.S.Monadnock (1881)
    U.S.S.Terror (1882)
    U.S.S.Miantonomoh (1882)

    Alert Class Gunboats (operational at the time of the conflict)
    USS Alert (1875)(CA)
    USS Huron (1875)(CA)
    USS Ranger (1876) (ME)
    USS Nantucket (1876) (PA)

    Ironclad cruisers
    USS John Paul Jones (1881)
    USS Bon Homme Richard (1881)
    USS Vengeance (1881)
    USS Alliance (1881)

    Iron Rams
    USS intrepid (1874) (operational at the time of the conflict)
    USS Elizabeth (1881)
    USS Linden (1881)
    USS Tottenville (1882)
    USS Vindicator (1881)
    USS League Island (1881)

    Rebel Navy
    At the outbreak of the War of Secession many of the Union’s best seaman were born in the south. However unlike the Army most of these talented officers chose to remain loyal to the Union. The War of Secession did not last long enough for the infant Confederate Navy to cover itself in glory. Despite its lack of heavy industries the Confederate Navy did surprise the world with its naval innovation, especially the construction of the Ironclad C.S.S. Virginia. Once the French and British Navy arrived in Confederate waters in October of 1862, the Naval campaigns of the War of Secession came to an end. Still the War at sea provided many important lessons for the fledgling Confederate Navy. The Confederacy had loss of its largest port New Orleans, its first ironclad was defeated, it lacked of shipyards and was forced to rely on the purchase of warships abroad. These defeats demonstrated that the Confederacy needed to expand its domestic ship building capacity and its heavy industries.

    In the interwar period Secretary of the Navy Stephen Mallory set out the framework for the Confederate Naval growth over the next twenty years. Because of the strength of US industries and its alliance with the world’s foremost naval powers of Britain and France, the Confederacy decided it did not require a true blue water navy. Instead C.S. Naval spending was focused on shore defense to prevent another loss like New Orleans and ironclad gunboats to bolster defense. New shore defenses were constructed at the Confederacy’s largest ports like Norfolk, Wilmington, Savannah, Charleston, Mobile, New Orleans Habana and Galveston. Next was the construction of a new fleet of Ironclads warships. However the expense of the fortifications meant that construction of the fleet could not begin until the late 1860s early 1870s.

    The development of this fleet was heartily supported by the growing Whiggish element and Southern Imperialists. Who wished to extend Confederate influence into the Caribbean. It was this alliance of interests and the low interest loans provided by the British that helped complete the new fleet. However successive doughface Yankee administrations meant there was little competition to build a strong Atlantic fleet. As a result the Confederate Navy like its U.S. counterpart was primarily a “brown water” navy. The new Confederate Navy operated primarily in the Caribbean supporting Franco- Confederate interventions in the region. Like the Confederate acquisition of Cuba, the Confederate blockade of Mexico in support of the French puppet Maximilian and interventions in Nicaragua and Santo Domingo. When construction of six new ironclads were approved in 1876 to replace the older War of Secession era vessels, firepower and durability were emphasized over sea worthiness. With the addition of the new Ironclads the Confederate Navy was theoretically as strong as the U.S. Fleet.

    Virginia Class Coastal Ironclad (in reserve at the time of the conflict)
    CSS Arkansa (1864)
    CSS Louisiana (1863)
    CSS Mobile ( 1863)
    CSS Virginia II (1865)

    Mobile Class double turreted Coastal Ironclad
    CSS Chattahoochie (1870)
    CSS Mississippi (1871)
    CSS Muscogee (1871)
    CSS Manassas (1872)

    Ironclad cruisers
    CSS North Carolina I (1865)
    CSS Semmes (1866)
    CSS Stonewall (1867)
    CSS Albert Sidney Johnston (1868)

    Richmond Class Ocean Going Ironclad
    CSS Richmond (1878)
    CSS Savannah (1878)
    CSS Charleston (1879)
    CSS New Orleans (1879)
    CSS Galveston (1880)
    CSS Habana (1881)

    British Royal Navy

    The Napoleonic Wars left Great Britain the most powerful naval country in the world, with no meaningful rivals. The country's economic and strategic strength was buttressed by the fleet; localized military action was a staple of the not-entirely-peaceful "Pax Britannica". In addition, the threat of naval force was a significant factor in diplomacy. The navy was not idle however; the 19th century witnessed a series of transformations that turned the old wooden sailing navy into one of steam and steel. After 1827 there were no major battles until 1881. The navy was used against shore installations, such as those in the Baltic and Black Sea in 1854 and 1855, to fight pirates; to hunt down slave ships; and to assist the army when sailors and marines were landed as naval brigades, as on many occasions between the siege of Sebastopol. In 1858 France built the first seagoing ironclad, Gloire, and Britain responded with Warrior of 1860, the first of the 1860s Naval Arms Race—an intensive programme of construction that eclipsed French efforts by 1870. She was called a "Black Snake" by Napoleon III, but was soon superseded. By 1880 Britain had a fleet larger than any two rivals combined. The British nation could take security for granted, but at all times the national leaders and public opinion supported a powerful navy, and service was of high prestige.

    French Navy or ”La Royale”

    In the 19th century, the navy recovered and became arguably the second finest in the world after the Royal Navy, albeit very much smaller. The French Navy, eager to challenge British naval supremacy, took a leadership role in many areas of warship development, with the introduction of new technologies. France led the development of shell guns for the navy, with its invention Paixhans gun by Henri-Joseph Paixhans. They were first fired in anger, to great effect, at the Battle of Veracruz in 1838. In 1850, Napoléon became the first steam-powered battleship in history. Gloire became the first seagoing ironclad in history when she was launched in 1859. The French Navy's Redoutable, laid down in 1873 and launched in 1876, was a central battery and barbette warship which became the first battleship in the world to use steel as the principal building material.

    Phase One: Outbreak and Initial Engagements

    On April 11th, 1881 President Blaine informed his Secretary of the Navy William Henry Hunt that if the CS Army occupied Sonora and Chihuahua he would issue an ultimatum to withdraw under the threat of war. [1] When asked how the Navy department could assist in compelling the Confederate’s withdrawal. He was informed that the U.S. Navy had 12 iron armored and 30 wooden warships ready for service, none of which could compare to modern British or French Battleship. A further ten ironclads and 40 wooden hulled steam warships were in reserve. Except the USS Puritan and the four Alert class ironclad gunboats, all the turreted ironclads warships were only capable of coastal defense. It was therefore the opinion of Secretary Hunt and Chief of the Navigation Bureau Vice Admiral Rogers that Blaine not declare war, without giving the Navy twelve months to prepare. In his advice, Vice Admiral Rogers was more honest than his Army counterpart General Rosencrans.

    Believing the war would be primarily a land conflict, alone Blaine rejected Vice Admiral Roger’s advice. Instead he ordered all warships fit for service to be ready to put to sea. , If the Confederates failed to abide by his ultimatum and hostilities broke out. The Navy should be prepared to blockade of the Confederate eastern coast. Rear Admiral Rogers informed him that was not possible. At most the U.S. Navy could hope to use its ironclads to defend its coast and send out its wooden warships to hunt down Confederate convoys Blaine authorized emergency funds to ensure all ironclads now on reserve readied for war and to complete the Amphrite class ironclads.

    As war clouds loomed, President Blaine called for a special session of Congress to ask Congress and the Senate for the authorization to use what force was necessary to prevent the Confederate acquisition of Chihuahua and Sonora. He also requested funds to prepare the military to enforce his demands. In what has been called the infamous “blank check” session the Republican dominated Congress granted President Blaine all of his requests. This included funds to for a dramatically expanded Navy. All older Ironclads were fitted for service and funding was authorized to complete the four Amphitrite Ironclads whose constructions was halted in the 1870s. Without any possibility of blockading the confederate coast, congress authorized the purchase of four fast iron hulled mail couriers to be converted into commerce raiders. These vessel were previously owned by the John Roach & Sons Shipbuilding company running mail service to the Brazilian Empire and capable of out running or out fighting the C.S. Navy’s Caribbean fleet. For the Next month U.S. shipyards on both the Atlantic and Pacific work frantically to catch up with sixteen years of neglect.

    On June 14th Blaine issued his ultimatum, the CS Army must vacate the Mexican provinces of Sonora and Chihuahua in ten days. On By June 24th, 1881 the ultimatum expired and the U.S. Congress voted to declare war. The first shots of the war were quickly fired on the Kansas and Indian territory frontier. Ships on station across the world were order to make ready for war.

    Luckily for the U.S. the Confederate Navy had also not modernized to European power standards. Unlike President Blaine however, President Longstreet had ordered his Navy to begin preparing for war with the election of a Republican President in 1880. Under the leadership of Secretary of the Navy Hilary A. Herbert and Vice Admiral John Taylor Wood. The Confederacy began out fitting cruisers and patrolling the Atlantic sea lanes for U.S. Commerce raiders. Where the Confederacy excelled at commerce raiding in the War of Secession it was bound diplomatically to refrain from issuing private letters of mark, by a recent treaty with Great Britain. President Longstreet still courting his European allies, ensure the Navy scrupulously upheld this agreement.

    On June 25th the U.S. sent a squadron of six wooden hulled steamers to patrol the Confederacy’s Atlantic coast, capturing eight Confederate merchant men in five days. However by July these were turned away by the iron hulled cruiser C.S.S. Stonewall and ocean going ironclad C.S.S. Charleston. The U.S. Navy sent its only ocean going Ironclad U.S.S. Puritan in response, but neither side wanted to risk their best warships in a confrontation.

    Screen Shot 2017-06-18 at 11.05.47 PM.png
    From left to right U.S.S. Puritan an Amphrite class Ironclad monitor; C.S.S. Savannah a Richmond class Ironclad; U.S.S. John Paul Jones Ironclad cruiser; U.S.S. Huron an Alert Class Ironclad Gunboat.

    Vice Admiral Rogers did not want to risk damaging his most powerful ironclad if there was a possibility France and Britain could enter the war. Both Great Britain and France were technically still allied to the C.S.A. and had warned the U.S. not to get involved with the C.S.A.’s transaction with Mexico. (Largely because they were the primary beneficiary as Mexico’s biggest creditor). From the outset of the crises Blaine had gambled that Britain and France would not come to the aid of a Slave power. Despite the reports that Britain was reinforcing its garrisons in Canada, had sent a squadron to reinforce its North American Fleet stationed at Halifax and France had sent a fleet to its treaty port at Acapulco. Naval intelligence indicated that Britain had reinforced its North American Squadron with six centerline ironclad battleships and more than a two dozen gunboats and wooden hulled steamers. Despite warnings from Secretary of State Hannibal Hamlin, President Blaine President declared all diplomatic personnel of Britain and France persona non grata in the US.

    In preparation for future conflict the Navy Department's Vice Admiral Rogers focused instead on hunting down Confederate merchantmen. All across the Atlantic, Mediterranean, Pacific and even as far away as Indian Ocean, U.S. steamers seized Confederate merchantmen and towed them as prizes to neutral and friendly harbors. The one place they could not operate was the Caribbean. At the outbreak of the Navy Department sent two squadrons of six wooden cruisers to attack Confederate shipping. Within two weeks of their arrival all twelve were destroyed or chased out of the Caribbean. On July 3rd the U.S. Navy’s new iron hulled commerce raiders were ready for war. Completed at the John Roach & Sons shipyard in Chester, Pennsylvania the new vessels christened the John Paul Jones, Bon Homme Richard, Vengeance and Alliance. For the next two months the U.S.’s new iron cruisers preyed on confederate shipping throughout the Caribbean. Though confederate ironclads would chased the squadron across the Caribbean they would always fail to catch or corner them.

    The C.S. Navy's only recourse was to arm its merchant men and use its fleet to capture U.S. merchant men. The Confederate fleet routinely violated the sovereignty of its Caribbean neighbors by sailing into their harbors and seizing U.S. merchant men. A particularly nasty incident occurred when a Confederate ironclad fired on a Haitian customs house for attempting to interfere with an inspection of the harbor. It was actions like this that would drive Haiti into a closer alliance with the U.S. a decade later. It was incidents like these and clashes between commerce raiders in neutral south american and pacific ports that had French and British politicians calling on their governments to intervene to keeps the seas peaceful from their violent and warlike american cousins.

    By mid july six of the ten War of Secession era Passaic class ironclads were ready for service. Secretary Hunt was projecting that the Amphitrite class Ironclads would be ready in the fall. A further four Ironclads were ordered to begin construction at shipyards in Kittery, Boston and New York. With growing strength, Secretary Hunt and Chief of Navigation Rogers began planning for naval attacks as part of a renewed advances in the eastern theater. These were put on hold after the Confederacy turned back the Union advance on Winchester and their successful defense of Louisville. These plans were canceled indefinitely with declaration of war on the U.S. by Britain and France.

    Part II the British and French Navies enter the war.

    [1] Secretary of the Navy William Henry Hunt was born in Charleston, South Carolina in 1823. Hunt studied law at Yale. He finished his professional training in his brothers' office in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he was admitted to the bar in 1844. Hunt opposed secession and favored the Union cause. He was nevertheless drafted into the Confederate Army and commissioned lieutenant colonel. However, he managed to avoid involvement in military operations until Admiral David Farragut captured New Orleans. Hunt was one of the few business men to host admiral farragut and even helped to organize a local government for occupied New Orleans. As a result he was largely branded a traitor throughout the south. As a result when Benjamin Butler and Admiral Farragut were forced to evacuate the city, Hunt and fellow collaborators were evacuate with the fleet. When Hunt returned to the North he settled into Washington and became a staunch Republican. When Blaine was elected he made Hunt Secretary of the Navy due to his expreince as a solicitor of naval contracts and as gesture to the influential loyalist southern diaspora.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2017
  11. Tiro Well-Known Member

    Jul 15, 2015
    Congratulations on producing another excellent article Mr President!:)
  12. rob2001 Well-Known Member

    May 29, 2013
    I have a question, the ironclad cruiser C.S.S. North Carolina, was she built in the Confederacy, or was she one of the Laird rams from England?
  13. President Mahan Well-Known Member

    Jun 7, 2011
    New York, New York
    I saw there was an ironclad cruiser by that name purchased in Britain during the Civil War but I had not thought about it.

    Which do you think it should be?

    Also Part II will include a lot of discussion on the U. S. Wooden steamers of Civil War era vintage acting as commerce raiders. If anyone wants to write a short stories of battles between U.S., British, French and Confederate commerce raiders or other vessels. I will include it in the next part.
  14. rob2001 Well-Known Member

    May 29, 2013
    Their was actually two built for the Confederacy, the other was named the Mississippi. But the British government stopped the delivery. In the OTL, they were commissioned into royal navy in 1865 as the Scorpion class ironclad. The other one being named Wivern. They were a double turret ironclad. I thought since the south won, the sale of both ironclads would go through.
  15. TITUP Member

    Jun 1, 2017
    St. Louis, Missouri
    I second this desire. If anyone has the artistic/ digital abilities maybe something like the "Loose Lip Sink Ships" campaign of OTL but set in the USA/CSA of the Great War? Specifically in 'Walk in Hell' HT gives details of one such propaganda poster that he entitled the Three Eagles:

    "He paused for a moment to have a look at the posters the U.S. Soldiers were putting up to replace the Confederate and Red propaganda. The art showed three eagles -the US Bald Eagle, the German black one, and the two-headed bird symbolizing Austria-Hungary- with their talons piercing four red-white-and-blue flags; those of the CSA, England, France, and Russia. The message was one word: VICTORY"

    pg 154 paperpack, Walk in Hell.
  16. Tiro Well-Known Member

    Jul 15, 2015
    President Mahan, I'll probably wait until you've got your Second Mexican War articles all finished before I take a shot at the topic, but I would really like to produce a ship action for the War of the Confederate Purchase; if nothing else I'd like to show Raphael Semmes achieve some modest victory sufficient to attract Serious lustre to his name (as I suspect his History to the Point of Divergence quite supports the sort of admiration that would allow Gabriel Semmes the sort of reflected glory that illuminated his path to the Grey House).
  17. President Mahan Well-Known Member

    Jun 7, 2011
    New York, New York
    Unfortunatley Raphael Semmes died in 1877. I imagined he was the ranking Naval Officer in the interwar period leading the Confederate blockade of Mexico and interventions in Central America. I think I mentioned his death in Semmes article.
  18. Tiro Well-Known Member

    Jul 15, 2015
    Now that makes sense - having him play a role in the "Acquisition" of Cuba might also be a logical way to up his prestige!
  19. Spencer Pease Well-Known Member

    Jun 20, 2016
    Can we expect another update on US army groups soon?
    President Mahan likes this.
  20. rob2001 Well-Known Member

    May 29, 2013
    Is their any chance we can see some other maps of battle from the series? I myself, would like to see one of the battle of Camp Hill.
    Spencer Pease likes this.